energy economics of high-power processes

If polywell fusion is developed, in what ways will the world change for better or worse? Discuss.

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kunkmiester
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energy economics of high-power processes

Post by kunkmiester »

The polywell would drop the cost of electricity to next to nothing. We've already had a number of things listed that this would affect:

Aluminum production

Spaceflight

Domestic energy production

Transportation in general, eventually

But basically, any process that requires massive amounts of power will drop in cost like a rock. We might see more electrical furnaces used for smelting, and with more power, scrubbing exhaust gases would be cheaper, meaning that dirtier processes become more economical..

What all could you see being done that hasn't before, or with different processes?
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D Tibbets
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Post by D Tibbets »

Just guesses on my part, but the costs for the grid power might drop by a maximum of 50%, the rest are grid costs. I suspect the costs would be higher once capital costs, plant maintainance, etc was considered. Assuming the fuel costs/kw hr. are negligable compared to coal or natural gas, I'll throw out a guess that general grid electricity cost might be reduced by 30%, Without grid costs a locally powered industrial cost would then be ~ 20% of the cost of buying current grid power. Still a substantial saving. If the working Polywell (BFR) ends up being extreamly cheep to build per kw hr. (mass produced modular design with direct conversion, etc.) the cost might approach 10%

As far as transpertation- ships , locomotives, and perhaps large semitrailer trucks if the system works are possible; though Bussard was reluctant to to allow any smaller applications and anything smaller than ship appilcations would require several generations in advanced design.

For space travel, I can see the various Bussard ideas being revolutionary, though I suspect (based on little real knowledge) that the huge power densities and weight concerns would make the booster (Single Stage to Orbit) application the most challenging.


Dan Tibbets
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MSimon
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Post by MSimon »

If the cost of carbon nanotube wire production goes down grid costs may decline due to lower power losses than either Al or Cu.

We await further developments.

If it works out the value of Al and Cu will decline.
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Post by MSimon »

For space travel, I can see the various Bussard ideas being revolutionary, though I suspect (based on little real knowledge) that the huge power densities and weight concerns would make the booster (Single Stage to Orbit) application the most challenging.
BOE shows that the problem is not too bad if you use LH2 as reaction mass. Power can go way up if you have 6 or 10 minutes of LH2 cooling available.
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kunkmiester
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Post by kunkmiester »

I forgot that copper is another metal made with electrical processes. I recently read about a new process for titanium that uses a high temp electrolytical process, and I'm sure there's others.

Desalinization is another that's been mentioned and I forgot to put on the list. Either process for doing it(distilling or reverse osmosis are the two I'm aware of) require a lot of energy.
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Professor Science
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Post by Professor Science »

I envision a world where hydroponics and subterranean farming is ridiculously cheap, allowing for high density agriculture which in turn pushes for increased urbanization as food costs exist only in transport. All the land that was once used for suburbia and farmland gets intensive reclamation projects thrown at it and earth reacquires a functioning bio sphere and humans get the most extensive park system ever envisioned. everyone wins.
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MSimon
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Post by MSimon »

Professor Science wrote:I envision a world where hydroponics and subterranean farming is ridiculously cheap, allowing for high density agriculture which in turn pushes for increased urbanization as food costs exist only in transport. All the land that was once used for suburbia and farmland gets intensive reclamation projects thrown at it and earth reacquires a functioning bio sphere and humans get the most extensive park system ever envisioned. everyone wins.
But suppose I don't want to live like that? Suppose I like suburban life?
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Professor Science
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Post by Professor Science »

Suburban life requires you to drive everywhere and get fat, do you like being fat and unable to scale mountains or canoe down rivers and portage to camp sites with zero light pollution and go telescoping? And it's not like you'd miss out on gardening, the fact that such a community exists means that stackable agricultural land exists so you could have a little plot for yourself. You'd even get better solitude this way, as there'd be so much park space you could roam for days without seeing another person if you wished.
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MSimon
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Post by MSimon »

Professor Science wrote:Suburban life requires you to drive everywhere and get fat, do you like being fat and unable to scale mountains or canoe down rivers and portage to camp sites with zero light pollution and go telescoping? And it's not like you'd miss out on gardening, the fact that such a community exists means that stackable agricultural land exists so you could have a little plot for yourself. You'd even get better solitude this way, as there'd be so much park space you could roam for days without seeing another person if you wished.
I have no objection to people who want to live in hives. I would hope they would be equally tolerant of my affection for Mr. Blandings' Dream House.

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0001W ... B0001WTWVU

Any way I have this green theory that spreading people out makes it easier on nature. None or few over whelming concentrations. You see you hive people are overloading nature and must be dispersed.

Or how about you know - we just let people live where they want to? I could live with that.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

PolyGirl
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Living Elsewhere

Post by PolyGirl »

You could end up living like people did in The caves of Steel.
However, long time ago the expression was "Go west" or "head for them hills". Today it is "Space the final frontier" (or was).
I can see it now, that if space travel eventuates as a result of the BFR, man will be mining the planets and asteroids for resources.
The more I know, the less I know.

KitemanSA
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Post by KitemanSA »

MSimon wrote: But suppose I don't want to live like that? Suppose I like suburban life?
Personally, I have no problem with folks living where they will, provided I am not forced to subsidize it, like suburbia is subsidized now. Pay your own way.. fine, tax me to pay for it, no thanks.

People live in cities because cities are efficient. People live in suburbs because the govenrment now taxes city dwellers to pay for them to move there. It is getting where it is too expensive to live in the efficient cities due to city paid price supports for suburban development.

Oh well.

MSimon
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Post by MSimon »

Yes cities are efficient. A small gang of thugs can hold whole neighborhoods at bay. They can go the way of Detroit very efficiently. They can be bled of that efficiency by mobsters, crooks, and politicians. Who as the very exemplars of that efficiency may hold all three positions at once.

And if you want disease to spread fast there is nothing like a city for efficiency.

As far as I know big cities are dominant in most state politics. If cities are subsidizing the rest of the country it is their own fault.

http://ask.metafilter.com/41010/Do-big- ... vice-versa
87% of the state pays 91% of the taxes.
I can see just how badly the cities are getting screwed. That 87% of the State's population live in cities.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

Professor Science
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Post by Professor Science »

You seem to be a bit afraid of other humans MSimon, but if you want to live on a featureless expanse of bland 10 cM grass with no ecologic depth, go ahead. I'll choose the ability to easily interact with dozens of people chosen out of hundreds at my finger tips with the luxury of traveling 10 miles and hitting deep forest to go exploring. And strawberries freshly grown costing a nickle a kilo.
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MSimon
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Post by MSimon »

Professor Science wrote:You seem to be a bit afraid of other humans MSimon, but if you want to live on a featureless expanse of bland 10 cM grass with no ecologic depth, go ahead. I'll choose the ability to easily interact with dozens of people chosen out of hundreds at my finger tips with the luxury of traveling 10 miles and hitting deep forest to go exploring. And strawberries freshly grown costing a nickle a kilo.
I have access to several billion without leaving my chair.

Yeah. OK. You choose. Fine. Your reasons are yours. I have different reasons. I don't think the hive people should be going after the free ranger folks. Or the other way around either.

I'm notorious for not liking crowds. Unless they are dancing. I don't think that makes me anti-social. It just means I tend to prefer more intimate gathering with people I know.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

KitemanSA
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Post by KitemanSA »

WARNING! WARNING! DISCUSSION FAST GOING OFF TOPIC!

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